In the full-season minor leagues, the playoffs come after Labor Day and therefore lose much of their family-driven audience. That doesn’t mean the players’ interest wanes, especially in Class A.
“A lot of guys go their whole careers without playing on a championship-winning team,” said Potomac shortstop Zach Walters, who joined the Nationals organization in a one-for-one trade for Jason Marquis on July 30.
Walters, who had at least two hits in six of his final eight regular season games, went 0 for 2 in Wednesday night’s Game 1 loss to the host Frederick Keys in the Carolina League best-of-five Northern Division series. The game was called with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and Frederick up, 5-1. Left-hander Jacob Pettit was credited with a complete game after allowing one run on three hits in six innings for the Orioles-affiliated Keys.
Game 2 is set for Frederick on Thursday night, with the series shifting to Woodbridge, Va., for Friday and Saturday nights. Game 5 would be back in Frederick on Sunday afternoon.
Potomac Manager Matthew LeCroy’s team recovered from a last-place first half to share the second-half divisional title.
“The biggest thing for us was catching the baseball,” LeCroy said. ”We had consistent pitching and timely hitting, but mainly we just started making the plays we needed to.”
Elsewhere in the Nationals system, Class AA Harrisburg is facing Richmond in a divisional series. Games 1 and 2 have been postponed because of flooding at the Senators’ Metro Bank Park, shifting the series to the Diamond in Virginia’s capital city for the first two games. Games 3 and, if necessary, Game 4 and 5 would be in Harrisburg.
Washington’s short-season Class A New York-Penn League team in Auburn, N.Y., trails 1-0 in its best-of-three semifinals against the Vermont Lake Monsters. The Doubledays are scheduled to host Game 2 on Thursday night.
None of the other full-season Orioles teams made the postseason, but Class AA Bowie finished only a half-game behind Richmond. The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles won a division title before losing to the eventual league champion Yankees in the playoffs.